Robert B. Livingston
September 18, 2005
An Open-Eyed Weltanschauung
In this second conversation economist and columnist Paul Krugman answers more questions from the program host, Richard D.Heffner.
About the New York Times and the press:
They are not as consequential as they are thought to be. Krugman does not look as if he wishes to deflate Heffner's admiration for the Times-- instead he describes how there are largely only two types of media in the country today: one that cannot discriminate by being overly "evenhanded", and another which is transparently biased to the political Right.
Krugman notes that the Times had never had a story about the false arithmetic behind Bush administration proposals to move toward Social Security privatization. Nor had it ever had a forthright story about who tax cuts were benefitting most.
Richard Heffner comments on the courageousness of recent Krugman columns-- and suggests that Krugman may attract enemies-- which Krugman nervously does not rebut. (Krugman later jokes that he needs to use tongs to pick up his mail).
To a question put him about his underpinning philosophy, Krugman describes himself as an older-fashioned, pragmatic sort of "liberal"-- one who believes (but not blindly) in the reasonableness and good intentions of most people. He does not believe in a triumphal marketplace, but yet believes that marketplace practices can be healthy for society if augmented by countervailing institutional forces, such as unions and a worthy press.
Krugman laments that he sees the health of all society eroding, and believes that the damage can be reversed by rebuilding the institutions that once provided checks and balances to the market economy.
The program ends on a dark note: Krugman describes his real fear of organized and muscular Right-wing opposition to his ideas.
As to who he might endorse in future elections, Krugman says that he is strictly forbidden (by the New York Times? by his university?) to endorse a candidate. He states, however, that he hopes a candidate will appear who can be more intelligently candid with the people about the state of contemporary affairs.